Thanksgiving was brighter for more than 100 Churchill County senior citizens.
American Legion Post 16, along with volunteers from Naval Air Station Fallon and the community, prepared, packaged and delivered holiday dinners as part of the Meals on Wheels program. Later in the day, the American Legion offered free Thanksgiving dinners at midday for the community.
Lance McNeil, an U.S. Air Force veteran and organizer of the annual event, said 115 meals were delivered. Between the kitchen crew and other volunteers, McNeil said Post 16 wouldn’t be able to serve the seniors. The cooks prepared the turkeys on Nov. 22 and all the trimmings on Thanksgiving Day. After the meals are packed, McNeil hands out addresses and maps to 18 drivers.
NAS Fallon Command Master Chief Robert Boyd the base has a great group of sailors who enjoy volunteering.
“They definitely embrace the community, and they all look for opportunities to give back,” he said.
Not only do sailors volunteer with different events and programs, but he also said they assisted the county in the spring with filling sandbags due to potential widespread flooding and helping wherever they could.
AZ Jolene Gilmore said this is her first year helping with the senior meals. She assisted other sailors who are with Aviation Ordnance.
“Most of the people here I work with,” she said. “This is to give back and do something positive for the community.”
ABH1 Kenneth Smith agrees.
“There’s a lot of opportunity to volunteer here (in Fallon),” he said.
During his tour at NAS Fallon, Smith has volunteered at the Fallon Cantaloupe Festival, the Fallon Fights, Grad Night and Fallon Youth Football.
Returning to Fallon is 2012 Churchill County High School graduate, A02 Crystal Kontny. Being home for the holidays is a dream come true.
“I missed my family,” she said, “but we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving this afternoon.”
Kontny said she enjoys volunteering, and it has become special this year because she’s giving back to her hometown.
A01 Eduardo Viera came to Fallon three years ag and has volunteered for both the American Legion Post 16 Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner programs and other community events. This year, Thanksgiving attracted almost 40 volunteers, many of them who belong to the Association of Aviation Ordnancemen at NAS Fallon. At the group’s monthly meeting, members received information for volunteering, and then the officers notify the air station’s command.
“This is a good opportunity to do something for the community,” he said.
The association’s president, A01 Daniel Haston, said the group has been seeking volunteers for several months. Richard Lott, vice president, said the two biggest activities for which the association volunteers are the Meals on Wheels program and ceremonies at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley.